In Queensland, it is not a crime to commit suicide. However, assisting another person to kill oneself is a crime.
Generally, the circumstances of assisted suicide involves a close friend or family member helping a loved person to end their life in circumstances where continued life is untenable to the person, and where that person requires the help of another to end their own life.
An unintended result may be that the assisting person will be prevented from inheriting from the deceased person’s estate. The reason for this is the law that has developed over time to prevent a killer from benefiting from the killing.
A recent Supreme Court case in Queensland involving an assisted suicide was concerned with whether the assisting person may benefit from the deceased’s estate and, indirectly, by the unlawful act.
The facts generally were that Francis Ward made a will appointing his friend Merin Neilsen executor and beneficiary of his will. He then obtained the assistance of Mr Neilsen in procuring the medical means to end his own life. He later took the medication, ending his life, with no further assistance from Mr Neilsen.
It was argued that there were many reasons why the Court should rule that Mr Neilsen should not be precluded from benefitting from Mr Ward’s estate, but the Court said:
“In this State, the law is clear. A person who assists the suicide of someone else cannot act as that person’s executor, or take an interest in his or her estate. The court has no discretion to modify the application of that rule. Saying nothing as to the facts of this case, I observe that it is irrelevant that the offender may have been motivated to ease suffering or to have acted at the request of the deceased.”
This judgment is a clear application of the law as it currently stands in Queensland. If you unlawfully assist another person to end their own life, you will be precluded from benefitting. This includes benefitting by the right of survivorship in regard to property owned with the deceased by way of joint tenancy.